Star’s position of comfort

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Hebden Royd Red Star player-boss Chris Garbutt is confident his side have achieved their main target for the season - survival in the top section of the Halifax AFL.

Star made it 20 points from 14 games last Saturday when they fought out a 3-3 home draw with title contenders Warley Rangers in the only Premier Division contest to beat the freeze.

It was actually a disappointing outcome for Star after they had led 3-1 with 15 minutes to go with the help of a Lewis Cockroft hat-trick.

However, centre back Garbutt admitted they would have settled for a point beforehand against one of the AFL’s in-form sides.

“We are definitely safe now, which was our main mission for the season,” said Garbutt, who took over the reins from Dave Whitehouse in the autumn.

“That’s an improvement on last season when we needed one point from our last game to ensure we stayed up.”

Red Star travel to Shelf United on Saturday and then lowly Elland United a week later and Garbutt added: “We want a decent finishing position.

“We’re fifth but have played more matches than everyone else. I’m hoping we can finish fourth or fifth.”

Star will be hoping to make their match fitness tell against a Shelf side who are four places below them from half as many games.

Remarkably, Shelf haven’t played since December 6 when they lost 7-6 to Midgley United.

Garbutt was full of praise for central defensive partner Will Boylan’s performance last Saturday. He also stressed the importance to the team of Cockroft, who now has 15 goals for the season.

Star were forced to play central midfielder James Rawlinson in goal when Joe Kidder phoned shortly before kick-off to say he would be late.

“He was brilliant - it was probably a blessing in disguise,” said Garbutt.

Warley drew first blood but Cockroft headed home Matt Oddy’s perfect cross to make it 1-1 at half time.

Red Star were on top and Cockroft put them 2-1 up from Patrick Thomas’s assist before Cockroft completed a hat-trick from the penalty spot after he had been brought down.

However, Warley were far from finished. They made it 3-2 when Rawlinson palmed a cross into the air and a visiting player volleyed home from close to the penalty spot.

The equaliser came five minutes from time when Garbutt’s attempted clearance hit a Warley player on the chest and the visiting player ran through and shot home.

Premier Division

P W D L F A Pts

Midgley United 12 9 0 3 48 23 27

Northowram 10 8 0 2 31 22 24

Greetland AFC 13 7 2 4 47 28 23

Stump Cross 8 7 0 1 30 15 21

Hebden Royd RS 14 6 2 6 46 44 20

Warley Rangers 9 5 2 2 31 23 17

Ryburn United 11 5 2 4 30 23 17

Calder 76 9 3 1 5 21 23 10

Shelf United 7 3 0 4 21 22 9

Copley United 12 2 2 8 34 48 8

Sowerby United 12 2 0 10 18 50 6

Elland United 11 1 1 9 15 51 4

Midgley United, whose Challenge Cup semi-final against Shelf at Ryburn last Saturday was postponed, have another crunch league game in the Halifax AFL on Saturday.

The leaders travel to third-placed Greetland, who have been in excellent form since losing the first meeting between the sides 3-2.

Calder ‘76, who haven’t played since their narrow defeat at Northowram four weeks ago, take on next-to-bottom Sowerby United.

Midgley United Reserves host Salem, surprisingly beaten by Greetland Reserves last weekend, while Calder ‘76 Reserves travel to Elland Allstars. Hebden Royd Red Star host Northowram Reserves in Division Two.

Fixtures - page 47